‘Amid a global pandemic, you might be forgiven for having missed that the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China just released a 13,000-word report on the state of human rights in the United States. Entitled “The Record of Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2019,” it begins by quoting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We lied, we cheated, we stole … It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment,” Pompeo said of his time as head of the Central Intelligence Agency during a Q&A at Texas A&M University.
The document reads similarly to reports from other human rights groups like Amnesty International, Freedom House or Human Rights Watch, providing copious facts and figures to highlight shortcomings of the American system on a range of issues. For example, on racist policing, it notes that, “Shootings and brutal abuse of African Americans by policemen are frequent. African American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults. A U.N. Special Rapporteur called such racial disparities a vestige of slavery and racial segregation.”
The report expresses alarm at the increase in racial hate crimes. “White supremacy in the United States has shown a resurgence trend,” it claims, noting that the majority of domestic terror related arrests were linked to white supremacist individuals or groups. It cites a November FBI study that counted thousands of racial hate crimes, almost half of them motivated by anti-African American sentiment. Intolerance against Jews and Muslims is also increasing rapidly the report noted.
It also takes aim at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, noting that well over 100 people were arrested while demonstrating against those policies. Thus, if skim-read, China’s report could be mistaken for one written by liberal Western organizations based in London or Washington, D.C. But, in fact, it was written directly in opposition to the human rights industry; in its foreword it explicitly states:
The United States claims to be founded on human rights, touting itself as a world human rights defender. Following a framework of its own narrow understanding of human rights and using its core interests of pursuing global hegemony as a yardstick, the United States released annual reports on other countries’ human rights every year by piecing together innuendoes and hearsay. These reports wantonly distorted and belittled human rights situation in countries and regions that did not conform to U.S. strategic interests, but turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the persistent, systematic and large-scale human rights violations in the United States.”
Furthermore, it goes much further than most Western human rights reports do, incorporating economic and social rights into its critique. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are commonly seen as the cornerstone of human rights. The report states that homeless people are in a “miserable situation,” in the United States and are rarely treated with sympathy or helped, noting that an astonishing 80,000 California community college students had been forced to sleep in cars during the previous year alone. It also highlights the “shocking problem” of child poverty; the poverty ratio of American children having barely improved in the last 30 years. The report concluded that, “No child should have to worry where her next meal will come from or whether she will have a place to sleep each night in the wealthiest nation on Earth.” A lack of healthcare is also a killer; around 14 percent of adults have no coverage whatsoever.’